Friday , Mar , 10 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Buckeyes take on Nittany Lions in Big Ten quarterfinals

(Sports Network) – Winners of five straight to close out the regular season,
top-seeded and seventh-ranked Ohio State takes to the hardwood this
afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Conference Tournament versus
a surprising Penn State program at Conseco Fieldhouse. OSU, which beat nine
of its last 10 competitors to close out the regular season, was an
impressive 16-1 at home this year and never once lost back-to-back games.
The squad finished with a 76-57 blowout of Purdue at home last weekend to
push them to 12-4 in league play and 23-4 overall.

As for the eighth-seeded Nittany Lions, they had no trouble handling
Northwestern on Thursday with a 60-42 win in the opening round. The
victory made PSU 5-8 in the tournament all-time, while OSU is 8-7 and
already has a trophy from an 81-64 romp over Iowa in the title came in
2002. Ohio State won both of the regular-season meetings between the schools,
with a 75-64 decision on January 21st in Happy Valley and an earlier 104-69
blowout in Columbus. As a result, the Buckeyes now lead the all-time series by
a count of 20-13. The winner of this matchup will take on the winner of the
Indiana/Wisconsin contest in the semifinals on Saturday.

Defense was the name of the game for the Nittany Lions on Thursday as they
opened the afternoon by limiting Northwestern to just nine field goals and 3-
of-14 shooting from three-point range in the first half. Add to that the fact
that the Wildcats failed to get to the free-throw line a single time in the
frame, and it was easy to see how PSU built a double-digit lead at the break.
By giving up only seven baskets in the second half, the Lions looked that much
better in the 18-point win. Geary Claxton recorded a double-double for Penn
State with 17 points and 10 rebounds, all while shooting 7-of-10 from the
floor. Travis Parker added 10 points and seven boards, while Mike Walker came
off the bench and survived 3-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-8 beyond the arc,
to contribute another 10 points as well. PSU easily won the battle on the
boards, 39-26, and outscored the Wildcats at the charity stripe, 14-3, on the

As a team, Ohio State was the top scoring team in the conference this season
with better than 76 ppg and matched Illinois for the top scoring margin in the
Big Ten at +12.4 ppg. OSU was second in shooting from three-point range at
38.8 percent and was also second in the league in limiting opponents to
success from the perimeter (.311) as well. While the Buckeyes were the second-
best team in the Big Ten in terms of assists with just under 16 per game, the
program just broke even when it came to rebounding, pulling down just as many
boards (33.7 rpg) is it gave up in 2005-06. Thad Motta, who was named the Big
Ten Coach of the Year, made it look rather easy thanks to the exploits of
Terence Dials, who was named the Big Ten Player of the Year with averages of
15.3 points and eight rebounds per game. Dials shot 58.1 percent from the
field and added a team-high 26 blocked shots, although his one downfall is
having just 17 assists through 27 games. Je’Kel Foster added 13.3 ppg, Ron
Lewis another 11.4 ppg primarily off the bench, while Jamar Butler’s 10.1 ppg
came second to his 121 assists, against only 45 turnovers.